WBUR

Pot Entrepreneurs Eye Mass. For New Business

Marijuana-infused chocolate truffles (Rachel Gotbaum for WBUR)

Marijuana-infused chocolate truffles (Rachel Gotbaum for WBUR)

BOSTON — How Massachusetts will regulate the sale of of medical marijuana, which was legalized in November, is still unclear. But one Colorado-based manufacturer of marijuana-infused products is hopeful he will be able to start selling his goods here sometime this year.

Tripp Keber looked at more than 35 business proposals before he started Dixie Elixirs three years ago in Colorado. The company manufactures products infused with marijuana that are sold online in Colorado and in the state’s 500 medical marijuana dispensaries.

“I didn’t know anything about cultivating cannabis,” Keber said. “It was difficult for me to ascertain who the patient was. Was it a 23-year-old lift operator from Breckenridge with back pain or a 73-year-old grandmother with glaucoma? At the end of the day the answer is all points in between. So I thought it would be an interesting concept to develop a company that could create products to medicate the masses.”

Ganja Gourmet, in Denver, Colo., specializes in so-called "medibles" -- food products that contain marijuana. (Rachel Gotbaum for WBUR)

Ganja Gourmet, in Denver, Colo., specializes in so-called “medibles” — marijuana infused products. (Rachel Gotbaum for WBUR)

Keber first started selling a pot soda in cherry, grape and orange flavors. Today, Dixie Elixirs cultivates its own marijuana crops and manufacturers 70 products — including sparkling sodas, chocolate truffles and even medicated bath salts. It has become the second largest publicly traded medical marijuana company in the U.S.

There are now 18 states that allow the use of medical marijuana and Colorado and Washington state recently legalized recreational use of the drug. Keber says there is big money to be made and he is currently expanding operations into six other states, including Massachusetts. He says the Bay State could have a huge customer base for his type of products.

“I would suggest, in a very short period of time, when we have the commercial application in Massachusetts, it could be a market in the excess of between $600 million to $800 million,” he said.

Keber knows from experience that creating new laws to bring commercial application of a drug that has been illegal for 70 years is not easy. But he still expects to be able to get a permit to sell Dixie Elixirs in Massachusetts within the year.

“I believe with great certainty that there will be the commercial application of medical marijuana in the state of Massachusetts,” Keber said. “How is it going to take place? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I have great confidence that Massachusetts will develop a model that is predicated on safely manufacturing and distributing these products and plants to the people that need them.”

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